Coxon, Graham : Stoke Sugarmill

New man, new songs, new neuroses...

“How’s Damon?” shouts the local village idiot before tonight’s first song has even begun. There’s always some chump on hand to throw [a]Graham Coxon[/a]’s past back in his face, but although the line between him and the ‘B’ word is becoming more definite, tonight is proof that there’s still enough agitation festering away inside of the man to keep things spicy for the rest of us.

Dressed like the father of a three year old daughter that he is – yet still a good distance away from middle age spread – Coxon certainly appears at ease. Evidently the light at the end of his tunnel is shining a brighter shade of dim and he even manages to Riverdance like a little Camden-pixie whilst flying through newies ‘Spectacular’ and the superbly [a]Kinks[/a]-like ‘No Good Time’ early on. It’s almost like watching a fleshed-out advert for the Priory, particularly during the transformation of former single ‘I Wish’ from a scratchy out of tune strum into a art-rock monster. The pained wince that once accompanied a large proportion of his discordant doodles is largely absent tonight but Coxon isn’t quite ready for happy ditties about Saturday afternoons spent in Mothercare just yet.

The clouds gather towards the end of the set. It’s a telling sign that Graham still feels the need to play a faithful rendition of the post-punk anthem of disaffection ‘That’s When I Reach For My Revolver’ (originally by the legendary Boston trio Mission Of Burma). The thrashed-out frustration of ‘People Of The Earth’, meanwhile, sees Coxon angrily barking “People of the earth/You have failed/You still worship the Sun and The Daily Mail” like a speed-addled version of [a]Jam[/a]. It’s an uproarious end which proves that science, parenthood or even wholesome rock ‘n’ roll is yet to provide comprehensive rehab for the complex emotions of an ex-Britpop poster boy. The monkey is still on his back, but at least now it’s not called Damon, Dave or Alex anymore.

Hardeep Phull